The interesting injury recovery story for UFC on Fuel TV 8 is Mark Hunt’s return from knee surgery. He was forced out of his UFC 146 bout with Struve in May 2012 due to the knee injury.
In May, the “Super Samoan” talked with Ariel Helwani of MMAfighting.com, giving some insight into the injury. Hunt stated that he had hurt his knee sparring. He then injured the knee again at his next training session when he was “finishing off sprints with resistance bands”, and felt a sharp pain and stiffness in the knee. In the interview, he notes that he was diagnosed with a meniscus tear, and that his doctor told him “he couldn’t see much PCL (posterior cruciate ligament)” on the MRI. Hunt has had surgery before on the same knee in 2003, and hinted that the knee “has been weak ever since.”
Direct information regarding which knee was injured proved difficult to locate, but Hunt’s own Twitter pictures (here and here) show a surgical scar on what appears to be his left knee. A scar like this tells me that he had more done than repair of a torn meniscus, which could have been done with a scope. It is possible that he had the PCL repaired. The PCL is one of the two cruciate ligaments in the knee, and it resists backward motion of the lower leg (the tibia) upon the upper leg bone (the femur).
What to watch for: First, the obvious. Reviewing videos of Hunt’s past fights show that he is a right hand-dominant striker. This means that his left leg will be the lead leg in the stand-up game, and could definitely be a target for attack. Any type of kick to the left leg could cause Hunt to be hesitant in his striking, but a straight front kick impacting the front of the knee, lower front thigh or lower leg could be the most devastating. This kick would potentially stress the PCL.
Secondly, I will watch the stability of the left knee, especially when he delivers right hand power shots. In the advanced stages of rehabilitation from the most recent surgery, Mark’s rehab team probably included extensive use of plyometric exercises, with the aim of simulating joint stress and muscular control similar to that experienced in the cage. Will he feel confident enough to accept his full weight on the leg as he delivers the punch? A power punch begins in the legs, with the generated force transferred through the core to the shoulder, the arm and ultimately delivered to the target with the hand. If Mark Hunt has any misgivings about that knee during his offensive game, I expect it to show in his power punch delivery.
Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve could be the worst opponent Hunt could face in his first fight after surgery- the tallest competitor vs possibly the shortest in the HW division. Struve’s long legs could keep Hunt at a distance if he connects on some leg kicks. He could deliver heavy punishment to Hunt’s left leg without allowing the Samoan in close, which would negate Hunt’s power striking.
Of coarse, one blast from Hunt’s big right hand would be the appetizer to my crow meal, too.